For average consumers looking for a fully functional automotive GPS device, the TomTom START and TomTom VIA series may come to mind because TomTom has been selling devices in this category for years and the START and VIA brands were always viewed as budget models. But in 2013, TomTom might be phasing out these brands by extending the company’s GO lineup to rock bottom prices. TomTom GO GPS devices often had premium features that you wouldn’t find in the VIA and most especially START units. But judging from the launch of the TomTom GO 50, it looks like TomTom is moving towards a numbering scheme for differentiation with all devices under the GO label to make it easier for consumers to decide which GPS device is best for them. The START and VIA devices still remain on TomTom’s website at the time of publication but require more clicks to get there. But the $129 price tag of the GO 50 shows that this device could be the successor of the TomTom START 50M which also sells for the same price.
When compared to the START 50M model, the TomTom GO 50 looks like a huge improvement both inside and out. This budget-oriented TomTom GO device feels cheap but the curves are a bit more defined giving the GO 50 a very premium impression. The display gets a very pedestrian 480 x 272 screen resolution and that is to be expected for a GPS device that costs under $150. It does weigh light though at less than 8 ounces and it has an integrated vehicle mount.
TomTom is really going all out in improving its image by rolling out its new user interface to all new TomTom GO devices including the high-end and low-end. This goes to show that the minimalistic nature of the new interface works well with devices like the TomTom GO 50 which have basic capabilities. Plus, the new interface looks refreshingly nice as the home screen is actually the map view. Rather than being a tap away from this view, you can easily check it out and view the menu on demand which ends up being the button that you have to press to see it.
The layout of the menu is a lot simpler as the icons are laid out on a scrollable single row and getting things done is more straightforward too. The new Quick Search feature is just one of the great new things that spawned from this interface as it lets you search from the massive database of destinations and results appear as you type on the GO 50. Then from the same main menu, you can also check out the new “My Places” section where you can manage all the locations you added as favorites. Because it is a huge departure from the old interface, users of these old TomTom devices may notice a few missing things like the ability to search for a specific GPS coordinate. Let’s hope TomTom adds these features in a future update.
Like just about every modern GPS device these days, you can switch the map to a 3D view which shows off the TomTom’s 3D graphics in a more unique fashion as its choices of color are limited to make the route path impossible to ignore. This 3D view fills up most of the screen too as there is no status bar that gets in the way. There is a new element that takes the status bar’s place called the Route Bar and it rests on the left side of the screen and is transparent to keep the 3D view full. It shows both essential travel and traffic information along with the current time.
All TomTom GO devices come with lifetime map updates and TomTom Traffic right out of the box. But the type of TomTom Traffic you actually get depends on the model you get and in the case of the TomTom GO 50, where you purchase it from. The GO 50 being sold in the US features a 3-month trial to the TomTom Traffic while the TomTom GO 50S offers the same feature an unlimited time. In the UK, the GO 50 is equal to the US TomTom GO 50S version. Of course, the US version comes with US, Canada and Mexico maps while the UK version fully covers 45 countries in Europe. No matter which variant you pick though, the GO 50 depends on your mobile device’s Internet connection to obtain the traffic data. This is a big departure from the TomTom START 55TM which comes with independent lifetime traffic updates although that device costs a bit more.
As expected from a low-end GPS device, the TomTom GO 50 comes complete with Advanced Lane Guidance for more convenient highway and junction navigation. To make the GO 50 more fresh on the feature side, TomTom threw in a 3-month trial of their new TomTom Safety Cameras service too. Basically, you will receive an alert when a speed camera is in the vicinity so you can respond accordingly.
The new interface makes the TomTom GO 50 a very appealing GPS navigator for your vehicle. Existing TomTom owners may not feel the need to make the jump unless they are bored of the typical interface. But for those that haven’t yet purchased a GPS device, the GO 50 is great way to begin the ease of going from point A to point B.